The methods used by mainstream food production systems have led to a decrease in the diversity of crops, depleted soil, chemically polluted waters, reduced food sovereignty in local communities, a worsening of public health and more.
They’ve also failed to solve food poverty. According to this 2020 report compiled by five UN bodies, more than 690 million people still go hungry around the world, despite the fact that more than enough food is produced to feed the global population. After steadily declining for a decade, world hunger is increasing. From 2018 to 2019, the number of undernourished people grew by 10 million, and there are nearly 60 million more undernourished people now than in 2014.
Agroecology is defined by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as a set of agricultural practices that “apply ecological concepts and principles to optimize interactions between plants, animals, humans, and the environment while taking into consideration the social aspects that need to be addressed for a sustainable and fair food system.” In addition to providing environmental benefits, agroecology also embraces traditional knowledge and supports community resilience and food sovereignty which is a powerful way to address food poverty.
While the techniques vary by region and climate, these practices help to maintain biodiversity, uplift rural women and youth, and encourage agricultural innovation.
Learn more in this article written by Daniel Moss (Director of the Agroecology Fund) and Mark Bittman (food writer and advocate).